If you’ve ever wondered how master musicians execute and remember large, extended chord voicings, understanding polychords will be especially helpful for you.
A polychord is simply a big chord made up of smaller ones.
For example, C minor 11 is:
By all means, this would be considered a “big” chord. But do you really have to remember each note individually?
Not at all.
How many small chords do you see in this C minor 11 chord?
I see a C minor triad:
I see an Eb major triad:
I see a G minor triad:
I see a Bb major triad:
I see an Eb major 7 chord:
I see a G minor 7 chord:
In GospelKeys Urban Pro 600, Jonathan Powell shows his formula to playing “phat” minor 11 chords. If he were voicing this same chord, he’d put Eb major 7 in his left hand (assuming a bass player already took care of the “C”). He’d then put Bb major in the right hand.
Sometimes, he inverts the Eb major 7 chord so that the notes are arranged like this:
Looking at this from a “number system” perspective, that would be: b3 major 7 + b7 major.
Note: In the key of C major, Eb is the b3 (flatted third) and Bb is the b7 (flatted seventh).
So the next time you see a big, “monster” chord, don’t be intimidated. Instead, look for the smaller chords within it, create your own formula like the one above, make a mental note, and practice it regularly to commit it to memory.
And there you have it! Short and sweet.
Until next time -
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